October 16 News Items

European Commission President Eyes Space Surveillance Network (Source: Space News)
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso on Oct. 15 said the European Union needed its own space surveillance network to protect the investment it is making in satellite systems for climate monitoring, security, navigation and other purposes. He said: “We need more security in space and from space. Our space assets and infrastructure are indispensable for our economy and security and we need to protect them. The EU should develop an independent capacity to monitor satellites and debris orbiting the Earth and the space environment, and tackle possible hazards.” (10/16)

Meteorite from Sep. 25 Canadian Event Recovered (Source: UWO)
When Tony Garchinski heard a loud crash just after 9 p.m. on Sep. 25 he didn’t think much of it. That is, until he awoke the next morning to find the windshield of his mom’s Nissan Pathfinder with a huge crack in it. Making note of the ‘unusual’ rocks he later found on the car’s hood, Garchinski chalked the incident up to vandalism and filed a police report. It wasn’t until two weeks later that his mother heard media reports that researchers from The University of Western Ontario were searching for possible fragments of a freshly fallen meteorite. The meteorite is estimated to be 4.6 billion years old. (10/16)

Germany Eyes Teaming with Industry For Its Own Optical Satellite System (Source: Space News)
The German government is weighing whether to enter into a partnership with industry to build a multi-satellite, high-resolution optical system for German military and civil use that would lessen France’s European domination of space-based optics, German government and industry officials said. The two- or three-satellite High-Resolution Optical System, or Hi-ROS, would be the next logical step in Germany’s development of optical satellite systems. (10/16)

Spaceflight Report Due Soon (Source: Space News)
With the Augustine Panel’s final report expected to be released the week of Oct. 19, NASA and White House officials are said to be coalescing around the idea of sending astronauts on deep space missions to near-Earth objects and potentially the moons of Mars. “The question now is funding,” said one administration official who has seen the draft report.

Sources both within the administration and close to it say an increase along the lines suggested by the Augustine panel is being weighed. Such an increase would add almost $1 billion to the space exploration budget in 2011, ramping up to about $3 billion annually by 2014. “I think the $3 billion figure has been widely misunderstood,” Logsdon said. “The actual proposal from the Augustine committee is a gradual increase to that level over four years through 2014, with only a little less than $1 billion proposed for next year.” (10/16)

Florida Delegation in Bipartisan Pursuit of at Least $3 Billion for Spaceflight (Source: Rep. Kosmas)
Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas and Congressman Bill Posey (R-FL-15), along with Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), led members of the Florida Congressional Delegation in sending a letter to President Obama calling on him to shift at least $3 billion in unspent Recovery Act funds to NASA’s human spaceflight program.

Kosmas, Posey and Nelson were joined on the letter by Florida Representatives Tom Rooney (R-FL-16), Kendrick Meek (D-FL-17), Corrine Brown (D-FL-3), Alcee Hastings (D-FL-23), Ron Klein (D-FL-22), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-20), Adam Putnam (R-FL-12), John Mica (R-FL-7), Kathy Castor (D-FL-11), Alan Grayson (D-FL-8), Robert Wexler (D-FL-19) and Ander Crenshaw (R-FL-4) and Senator George LeMieux (R-FL). The Texas Congressional Delegation also sent a similar letter to the President earlier this month. (10/16)

Space Debris Falls on Home (Source; BBC)
A couple from England have been told that a 4lb (1.8kg) chunk of metal which smashed through the roof of their home may have come from space. The RAF investigated the unidentified falling object after it landed in Peter and Mair Welton's loft in July. The investigating team consulted with the European Space Agency and NASA before concluding that the metal was "consistent with space debris", the RAF said. (10/16)

Pu-238 Plutonium Restart Denied with Final Passage of Energy Bill (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Senate gave final passage to an energy and water spending bill Oct. 15 that denies President Barack Obama’s request for $30 million for the Department of Energy to restart production of plutonium-238 (pu-238) for NASA deep space missions. The House of Representatives originally approved $10 million of Obama’s pu-238 request for next year, but ultimately adopted the Senate’s position before voting Oct. 1 to approve the conference report on the 2010 Energy-Water Appropriations bill (H.R. 3183). The bill now heads to Obama, who is expected to sign it. (10/16)

Rockefeller, LeMieux Express Concerns About NASA Financial Management (Source: Space Policy Online)
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, opened a nomination hearing yesterday by saying that NASA "is trailed around with a bit of public skepticism ... particularly in the question of fiscal responsibility and accountability...." The hearing included the nominations for Beth Robinson to be NASA's Chief Financial Officer and Paul Martin to be NASA's Inspector General.

Rockefeller added "NASA has gone without an effective Inspector General for too long.... I think there is a lot of waste, fraud and abuse at NASA." He pointed out that it is not just that NASA cannot pass a financial audit, but cannot even prepare its financial records to allow its independent auditor, Ernst & Young, to do its job.

Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) -- appointed by Florida Governor Crist last month to replace Mel Martinez, who resigned after serving four years of his six year term -- also expressed concern about "irregularities" at NASA and emphasized the need to "get 100 cents worth of every dollar" spent at the agency. Senator LeMieux is Governor Crist's former chief of staff and is not expected to run for the Senate seat; Governor Crist is running for that position. (10/15)

Florida Ranks 12th for Federal Funding to Universities/Colleges (Source: SSTI)
Florida's share of federal R&D obligations for universities and colleges rose to $609 million in 2007, placing the state at #12 nationwide. The funding level represents a 12.5% increase since 2003, but that increase was just under the U.S. 5-year rate of inflation, which was 12.7% for that period. Based on its rate of growth for such R&D funding, Florida was ranked at #25 nationwide. New Mexico had the largest percent increase over the five-year period, rising 45.7 percent to $182 million in 2007. (10/16)

California Ranks 1st for Federal Funding to Universities/Colleges (Source: SSTI)
California's share of federal R&D obligations for universities and colleges rose to $3.48 billion in 2007, placing the state at #1 nationwide. The funding level represents a 9.2% increase since 2003, but that increase was well under the U.S. 5-year rate of inflation, which was 12.7% for that period. Based on its rate of growth for such R&D funding, California was ranked at #29 nationwide. New Mexico had the largest percent increase over the five-year period, rising 45.7 percent to $182 million in 2007. (10/16)

Editorial: Failure to Boost NASA Funding Would Haunt President Obama (Source: Florida Today)
The blue-ribbon panel that President Barack Obama tasked to study NASA's future has given the White House several options to chart a new course for space exploration. In doing so members drew a line in the sand. They said the manned space effort is on an "unsustainable" fiscal path and cannot "continue in any meaningful" way unless the administration adds $3 billion a year to NASA's budget. So far the White House has remained mum on what it's going to do.

state space officials are urging the White House to tag high-tech projects from the Department of Energy, NOAA and other agencies for the Space Coast to create jobs and offset some of the searing post-shuttle cuts. "We want to give the White House every chance to declare victory in Florida" on the post-shuttle transition, says Frank DiBello, president of Space Florida. The White House political office should remember that among the reasons Obama won Florida last year was his NASA promise gained him votes in the critical Central Florida corridor. If he abandons NASA now -- or tries to ineffectually fund the agency on the cheap -- it will come back to haunt him at Florida's ballot box in the future. (10/16)

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